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How are vulnerable populations exposed to restorative nature in the City of Vancouver, Canada? Lam, Taelynn


Living in cities can be stressful. While studies have shown that exposure to nature can help reduce stress and promote mental wellbeing, some research has shown that some characteristics of nature provide more psychological support than others depending on one’s state of wellbeing. City planning and urban forestry strategy need to consider the qualitative attributes of urban nature in the landscape in order to better support the different needs of the residents. This study focused on restorative nature: nature elements that help relieve stress and alleviate mental fatigue. A novel measurement, Local Restorative Nature (LRN) index was developed to allow for a quantitative comparison of restorative nature across a landscape using data from remote sensing imagery and municipality’s geographical information system (GIS). Using the City of Vancouver as a case study, we assessed the distribution of restorative nature and investigated how various populations in the city, particularly vulnerable groups, are exposed to restorative nature. A geographically weighed regression analysis was performed using the computed LRN index and the Canadian Index of Multiple Deprivation data to examine localized relationships between vulnerability groups and their exposure to restorative nature, with a resulted r-squared value of 0.71. Our study found that vulnerable groups in the City of Vancouver have different exposure to restorative nature. This exposure to restorative nature can be different for populations with similar vulnerability depending on their local area of residence. The proposed LRN index demonstrated an easy and effective way to quantify urban restorative nature. When combining the LRN index with demographic data, city planners and policymakers could identify and prioritize future planning efforts in neighborhoods that are more in need to promote equity in nature-based care services across the city and improve residents’ wellbeing.

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